COMMENTARY

Avoid these 8 mistakes and be a winner in personalization

Sept. 22, 2017

Photo: iStock.com

By Tushar Patel, CMO, Kibo

Why do so many retail websites still fail to establish a personal relationship with their shoppers? Clearly, something is holding marketers back from delivering the relevant, timely, highly-personalized web experiences that shoppers really want.

Conceptually, delivering personalized experiences is rather simple: all retailers need to do is engage in a way that recognizes the shopper’s intent, at any given moment.

When done correctly, the result is increased conversion rates, bigger orders for retailers and happier, more satisfied customers.

But where do most retailers go wrong?

Below are eight, very avoidable, mistakes retailers make with regards to personalization:

  1.     Living and dying by profiles: If a retailer is using marketing effectively, a large proportion of web traffic should be new visitors; those that a retailer has no data on. But, by picking up on contextual clues from each session, retailers can begin to determine what the shopper is trying to do. Once a retailer has established shopper intent, any additional profile data can be quite valuable. This eliminates the risk of treating a shopper as if they are living in the past.
  2.     Building personalization strategies on rules alone: Here’s the truth: most personalization rules don’t work because they are expert-intensive, quickly become outdated and they multiply like rabbits. Retailers should either consider a machine-learning system optimized for the most important KPI, or allow merchandising rules to be used sparingly for exceptions, to hard-wire key business rules and to target visitors based on profile data.
  3.    Thinking like NASA: Many ecommerce executives think personalization is a massive exercise requiring a large IT implementation, overhaul of people and processes or an investment in a new platform. But, with today’s cloud-based solutions, personalization can be deployed quickly.  Furthermore, intuitive user interfaces allow merchandising teams to see immediate and measurable ROI without requiring IT to manage on a day-to-day basis.
  4.    Waiting for one-to-one nirvana: Instead of relying on tracking clicks to reach the "mountain top" of one-to-one personalization, retailers should focus on what people are really engaging with by watching patterns of shopper engagement. Tracking these patterns offers priceless intent clues as long as a retailer can detect and act on them in real-time.
  5.    Looking backward instead of forward: Retailers must get past the "insight lag" that plagues so many digital commerce initiatives. Instead of analyzing spreadsheets to look for patterns, retailers should harvest insight from micro-behaviors taking place on a website — right now — to deliver the best content for each customer in the moment.
  6.    Forgetting the power of search:  Search is one of the most powerful intent signals any shopper can transmit both as they navigate to a retail site and while on the site. Ignoring search and serving up generic content is a lost opportunity, to say the least. When planning to implement onsite search, online retailers should always make a logical pairing between shopper vocabulary and product description.
  7.    Thinking of personalization as an accessory: Retailers should know by now that personalization capabilities are a "must have," never again a "nice to have" accessory. By giving shoppers relevant content on a well-designed product page — retailers are sure to have lifetime customer relationships. Personalization is (and should be) so ingrained and expected by shoppers that it really is a modern-day requirement.
  8.     Limiting personalization on a retail site: Great retailers know there is a lot of psychology involved in effective marketing. Creating affinity to a brand, making the relationship personal and capitalizing on shopper impulses are time-tested tricks of the trade. Retailers should ensure their personalization strategies are not limited. Instead, they must be able to use what they learn from all shoppers to make personalized recommendations in each interaction, and make plans to cover all bases by reaching shoppers via mobile, email and onsite.

The savviest of retailers know serving their customers’ immediate need has always paid dividends. Retailing today demands retailers identify customer intent fast, deliver a satisfying experience to the shopper and respond more effectively. Through proper personalization strategies that look forward, retailers can keep shoppers coming back for more while also driving improvements in all channels.


Topics: Consumer Behavior, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Digital Merchandising, Marketing, Merchandising, Omnichannel / Multichannel, Retail - General, Shopper Marketing, Technology


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